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Izzy & Harry
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Young Izzy
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Escala
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Wedding Day
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Izzy & Rupert
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Chilling
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Career Profile Izzy Judd | Serene Strings

Author: Miranda Eason

Growing up in family full of musicians and owning her first (teeny!) violin aged just three, a career in music was always on the cards for Izzy Judd.

She’s come a long way since then, reaching the final of the second series of Britain’s Got Talent as one quarter of electronic string quartet Escala, playing on McFly’s Wonderland tour, where she met now husband Harry and, inspired by her wedding, founding Serene Strings, a string quartet that provides classical, jazz and pop music for weddings and events. She’s also totally nailing social media with Twitter and Instagram feeds that are full of inspiring messages, cute couple shots with Harry and plenty of pics of cats Morris and Murphy.

Read on to find out more about Izzy’s career path and her advice for making a career change, creating a new business and conquering nerves (remember, this is someone who’s performed in front of Simon Cowell!).

When did you first pick up a violin?
When I was about three my parents gave me a tiny violin so I could join in with my brothers when they were playing. I come from a family of musicians, so growing up playing an instrument was as normal to me as brushing my teeth! There was always music playing in our house and being the youngest of four children I couldn’t wait to start learning the violin so I could be just like my brothers. My parents run a music school in Hertfordshire called Musicale, their work ethic and passion for business is inspiring. They always said to us ‘make it happen.’

Was there ever another career ambition?
I always loved to perform whether that was music, dancing or acting. I felt very at home on stage so when I was 10 I joined the Sylvia Young Agency. During my childhood my evenings were spent at music lessons or dance lessons, which I loved. When I was 12 my eldest brother Rupert tragically suffered a serious head injury as a result of a road traffic accident. As you can imagine our family’s life was turned upside down and overnight life changed. As my other two brothers were studying at Chethams School of Music in Manchester it made sense for me to go and join them. My focus there was the violin so I stopped my dancing and acting. Little did I know at that point that my love for the stage was still waiting around the corner for me in a classical crossover career.

What was your career path, and how did Escala form?
The violin became my career path and during my first year studying in London at the Royal Academy of Music my mum saw an advert in the paper to audition for a new classical crossover group called Wild. It was in this band that I met my best friend Chantal and together we went on to be two quarters of Escala. In 2005 we were invited to be a part of an orchestra for McFly’s Wonderland Tour, it goes without saying that this tour was the start of something very special, not only did Chantal and I meet the other two members of Escala but I also met my future husband Harry!

Being on Britain’s Got Talent and going all the way to the final must have been an amazing experience, what are your favourite memories from that time?
Britain’s Got Talent feels like a very surreal memory now! We never imagined we would reach the finals, let alone be signed by Simon Cowell’s record label SYCO. It was an amazing opportunity, recording our dream album with Trevor Horn and performing all over the world. It always felt electric being on stage performing with your three best friends. A highlight was performing Live And Let Die at a James Bond premiere in Leicester Square and our performance on the Oprah Winfrey Show in America. I feel incredibly lucky to have been a part of Escala and will cherish the happy memories and endless laughter in the dressing room when it was just the four of us!

Was leaving the band a difficult decision?
I left Escala in 2011. It felt like the right time for me to move on. If I’m honest I never found the travelling and being away from home that easy. With Harry in a similar career I was happy to be the one at home keeping some sort of normality and routine. After six great years in Escala I’d achieved more than I could have dreamed of and felt very lucky to have been a part of something so awesome! The toughest part was telling my bandmates, it was like breaking up with someone three times.

What advice would you give to RMS readers who are considering leaving a job or changing career?
If I was to give anyone advice about changing career, or leaving a job, it would be to stay true to yourself. I found personally that taking control of my life gave me great confidence and happiness.

How did Serene Strings come about?
In the months after I left Escala Harry and I got engaged and the beautiful task of planning our wedding began. I absolutely loved every second of it. I lived on Rock My Wedding for inspiration, dress envy and research for suppliers. It was actually there that I came across Lucy Ledger who went on to design the Serene Strings website. In those months I didn’t play my violin at all and began to really miss it and I started to think about how I could create a business that would involve my experience in music and planning. Having loved being a bride myself I thought how lovely it would be to provide a string quartet for weddings and events. I was absolutely inspired as a result of being a bride to set up a business in the wedding industry, it’s just a very happy place to be!

What can a couple booking Serene Strings expect?
Serene Strings is a string quartet that provides beautiful music for special occasions. It is made up of a small group of professional musicians from all around the country who come from very prestigious and busy careers in the music industry. I don’t personally play at all the weddings but I organise each event. I love nothing more than to talk through a couple’s plans for their wedding day as I understand how important every detail is. I hope to offer a very bespoke service for each client’s needs. Serene Strings has a selection of classical, pop and jazz music in our repertoire that all musicians have performed many times. I can also organise for a piece of music to be arranged specially for the quartet. At my own wedding we had the Beach Boys ‘Don’t Worry Baby’ as it meant something personal to Harry and me, it is one of the happiest memories from our wedding day. My motto for Serene Strings is, ‘Where words fail, music speaks.’

How does it differ from being in Escala?
Life in Escala was very exciting but also very unpredictable as we never knew where we would be flying to next! I really enjoy the stability Serene Strings brings and also being responsible for my own decisions. Learning a musical instrument gives you many life skills such as discipline, working as a group and communication but, most importantly, if you work hard at something you can achieve great things, which is extremely rewarding. These foundations have certainly been very useful tools to have when setting up a business.

What’s the best thing about running Serene Strings?
I love being able to take Serene Strings work with me wherever I go. When I’m away with Harry on tour I give my business cards to all the hotels we stay at. I’ve found a lot of my business comes from word of mouth, social media and just talking to people and I use every opportunity to tell people what I do. Serene Strings is only a few months old so I’m learning all the time. Each wedding is so unique and beautiful. If we’re playing in the service I like to watch the groom’s expression as the bride walks up the aisle. I’m a hopeless romantic and would ideally like to live in a Richard Curtis film!

Do you get nervous when you perform?
I’ve performed all my life and so getting used to nerves has been part of the job. At very nerve-racking concerts I try to channel the nerves as positively as I can and use them to improve my performance. I always try to remember that it is very normal to feel nervous and part of being a performer. Having said that I have my violin to hide behind, if I ever have to speak in public I try to remember to keep breathing and take my time. When we’re nervous we tend to talk/play faster.

How do you and Harry deal with being apart, when one of you is touring, for example?
I’m very lucky that I have a job I can take away with me. Harry and I prefer to be together so I usually go away with him and take my work with me. Neither of us particularly enjoys being apart so we tend to just stick together! I’ve been so lucky to have travelled all over with Harry, most recently to Australia which was amazing. Having said that in the early days of our relationship I couldn’t always go, but being a musician myself there has always been a mutual understanding about what life is like on the road. I’ve always accepted Harry’s career and admire McFly for having maintained a successful career for over 10 years. That’s pretty impressive in the pop industry and I will do everything I can to support him.

What are your favourite ways to relax and destress?
There is nothing I love more than to be at home with Harry and our two ragdoll cats Morris and Murphy. We both enjoy a healthy lifestyle and I find cooking very relaxing. Nutrition is something that I’m very interested in, I’m not quite as into my fitness as Harry but I do like to keep fit. I would prefer a swim or a yoga class than running into a sweat. Any exercise that can be done quickly and effectively keeps me happy, so a 30 minute HIIT session is as far as I go.

I couldn’t help but spot you hanging out and working out with Ellie Goulding on your Instagram feed…
Ellie is on another level of fitness, when we are on tour with the boys she usually trains with Harry as they are crazy fit, I can’t keep up!

Can you tell us more about the Eyes Alight Appeal, the charity you set up?
I set up the Eyes Alight Appeal in 2011 as part of the Brain Injury Rehabilitation Trust. My brother Rupert has been living in a BIRT home for the last 12 years. He needs full time care and without BIRT this wouldn’t be possible. I wanted to do something to give back and support other people like my brother, who have serious needs as a result of a head injury. The Eyes Alight Appeal aims to give many wishes to those people going through long-term brain injury rehabilitation. So far we’ve raised £180,000 and with that we have made many ‘Eyes Alight.’
One of my favourite wishes was for a man who before suffering a head injury loved his vegetable garden. Eyes Alight funded a vegetable patch on his private patio and now, having previously never left his room, he takes the vegetables he grows to the kitchen to be cooked for the rest of the residents in the home. This wish has also aided his rehabilitation as he is now integrating back with the other residents.
My brother was and still is an amazing French horn player studying at the Guildhall School of Music when he had his car accident. Eyes Alight has provided Rupert’s carer with a car so that he can be taken to horn lessons and weekly wind band rehearsals. The idea of Eyes Alight is to enhance the life of people like Rupert and give them the chance to fulfil the hopes and dreams they had before tragically suffering head injuries. You can watch Rupert’s Story here.
Harry has been an absolutely amazing support to Eyes Alight having run marathons and appearing on various TV shows to raise funds and awareness. He is Rupert’s best friend and his love has helped me come to terms with accepting Rupert for who he is today, a wonderful brother who lights up any room and will forever be my brightest star.

{Profile}

Izzy


Name | Izzy Judd
Occupation | Former member of Escala and founder of Serene Strings
Lives | London
Studied | Violin

{Contributors}

Wedding Photographs: Sven Arnstein Hello Magazine

Author
Born in Yorkshire. Lives in East London. California girl at heart.

38 thoughts on “Career Profile Izzy Judd | Serene Strings

  1. Oh what a lovely story, the last sentence really choked me up. I love hearing where people’s careers take them & how it’s good to move through life taking different paths along the way dependent on circumstances. As long as you keep moving forward & working hard wonderful things can happen.

    Love the name Serene Strings, makes you want to book them instantly. Good luck Izzy x

  2. Wow. Izzy what an inspiring story in regards to your achievements and career. It must be amazing to have such a musical talent, something that I definitely do not have. I didn’t know anything about you before reading this article, however, you seem not just talented and inspiring, but a genuine and lovely person too. For me, your Eyes Alight Appeal is by far your most inspiring achievement and there is nothing more important than being able to support other individuals in achieving in their lives regardless of some of the life changing challenges so many people face. What an inspiration Rupert and your family are to so many individuals and families. Your charity will offer some hope and light in times that must seem incomprehensible and that is invaluable. I’m glad that I’ve had the opportunity to discover you. Thank you for sharing your story.

    1. Thank you for your lovely thoughts Emily, Rupert continues to be an inspiration to so many. So happy you enjoyed reading the feature, it was very therapeutic to go back over the years! X

  3. I remember vividly watching Escala’s performance on BGT thinking how utterly incredible & talented you ladies are as well as totally gorgeous!

    So many of your comments have rung true with me. I too am a hopeless romantic and concur that the wedding industry is a truly fabulous place to work in. It literally brings me joy. Every. Single. Day. Allowing me to be do something I’m passionate about and also be the home maker. I’m so pleased you’re career change has allowed you the same flexibility.

    I LOVE your Serene Strings ethic ‘Where words fail, music speaks.’ I couldn’t agree more, it’s so powerful and totally transports you back to a happy time/place. I still get chocked up when I hear the first chords played of my walking down the aisle music.

    I wish you all the best in your new career Izzy and have no doubt you will be super successful. All your efforts for the ‘Eyes Alight Appeal’ are also totally awe inspiring and it sounds like a truly amazing charity.

    Lorna x

    1. Thank you Lorna for your kind words, sounds like we are quite similar! Music has been the glue for our family, sometimes it’s easier to express yourself through music when the words are too hard to say! Wish you all the success with your business too x

  4. This post was just amazing Izzy-thank you so much.Went on to watch “Rupert’s Story” which is a beautiful piece.All the very best for your new business and your fantastic charity work.As others have said,you and your family are truly inspirational! X

    1. Thank you Jenny, lovely to read your thoughts and thank you for watching “Rupert’s Story” X

  5. What a lovely, lovely interview to read to cheer up a grey drizzly morning – thank you! I was a big Escala fan and Palladio remains one of my favourite running tunes, I always play it towards the end of long runs when the going gets tough, it really makes you want to push through. I’ve just read Rupert’s Story and feel completely inspired by it all. What a brilliant charity. The vegetable garden story is a prime example of how the smallest of gestures can make the biggest difference. X

    1. Thank you Sian, i’m with you on Palladio being a fab running track! I love the Vegetable garden wish we did, as you say a great example of how the smallest things can make such a huge difference! X

  6. This is so lovely to read Izzy, I can relate to your childhood in many ways as music is a huge part of my family and I’m one of four too!! We used to love putting on shows for my parents and playing duets with my Dad is one of mine (and his) fondest memories of my childhood.

    It sounds like you are a very close family so it must have been very difficult for you all dealing with Rupert’s accident, but the charity sounds amazing and the fact that Rupert can still do the thing he clearly loves is wonderful. Music is definitely a great healer.

    I love that you used Rock My Wedding for inspiration when planning you big day 🙂 It looked beautiful. And to echo Lorna, working in the wedding industry really is awesome and we wish you lots of lots of success for Serene Strings.

    Fern x

    1. Thank you so much Fern, music is such a wonderful gift that a family can share. We have many similar childhood memories by the sounds of things as we loved putting on shows too! Thank you for your kind words about Rupert, i wish you all the success! X

  7. Lovely post! I spent a year on a foundation course at Trinity College of Music and was so impressed by the musicians around me – quickly realising this was never going to be my chosen career! It wasn’t just that their talent that was so impressive (it was!) but it was their dedication, devotion, commitment and LOVE! Since I came up short on pretty much all fronts, I chose a non-musical path but I still feel a huge amount of respect for people like Izzy. Also – making a career out of doing what you love – surely that’s the best of all worlds!

    Plus, Izzy, your cat is totes adorbs.

    1. Thank you Kate, lovely to read your story. I will pass on your love to Morris & Murphy… I’m currently kneeling at my desk because Murphy sat on my chair when i went to make a cuppa! X

  8. Such a lovely article! I am in the middle of a career change so it was nice to read your thoughts. I love how inspiring you are Izzy and how much you have achieved yet you still seem so lovely and down to earth! Rupert’s story is very inspiring too. It is so lovely that despite having to overcome life changing situations with the help of your charity people are able to continue with what they love doing! All the best for Serene Strings and Eyes Alight xx

    1. Thank you for sharing your lovely thoughts and for your kind words Lucy. Good luck with your career change, exciting! X

  9. This was so lovely to read! I used to play violin when I was younger, had to stop but did pick it back up after I came across Escala 🙂 I play clarinet now and am so thankful you’ve written how you get over your nerves! I’ve got a music competition in a few days time and have quite an exposed part which terrifies me! People always say I should have my nerves under control but their advice is to always get over them which doesn’t work with me haha so big thank you for your advice!

    You are such an inspirational person and I wish you the best of luck with everything! Also feel free to come back to Australia soon! 🙂 Em xxx

    1. Thanks Emma! Good luck for your music competition, enjoy… you have already put all the hard work in and embrace the nerves they are there to help 🙂 Would love to come back to Australia, beautiful place! X

  10. This is such a lovely story, what you have done for people like your brother is great and truly inspiring! I am an inspiring young musician playing clarinet and studying for my grade 8 exam and you have really motivated me! Maybe one day I could accompany a band like McFly 🙂

    1. Thank you Hannah! Good luck for your grade 8, practice makes perfect 🙂 So great to hear from so many young musicians, my dad has always said “enjoy your music making” Thank you for your kind words x

      1. I know this is a long shot but would you possibly be able to suggest to Harry to play some rarer McFly and Busted songs on the next tour (if there is going to be one). I know a lot of fans would like this. Personally I would suggest the last song – McFly and meet you there – Busted. Don’t worry if you can’t, I don’t want to feel like I’m taking the attention away from you on your article because you are such an inspiration to me Izzy, and you wishing me luck in my exam means a lot! Thank you xx

  11. Such a lovely interview! Izzy’s career is certainly inspirational and it only reaffirms me in the idea that you have to do whatever leads you towards happiness, and choosing a job or a career aspiration that fulfills that is crucial. Chase after your dreams always, and it’s wonderful what her charity is doing to allow the people with brain injuries to be happier. Very inspirational story, the video of Rupert’s story brought me to tears, he surely is an amazing man.

    I wish you all the happiness in your life, Izzy!

    1. Thank you Irene and thank you for taking the time to watch “Rupert’s Story” Sounds like we’re on the same page… Do what makes you happy! X

    1. Thank you lovely Lucy, so much of Serene Strings wouldn’t have been possible without your support let alone beautiful design! You’re super talented!! Xx

  12. Go Izzy! This was a lovely read on my lunch break. It has been great to learn a bit more about someone I have seen on TV and know a little about. So down to earth and a natural beauty. Good luck with the new business!

  13. What a fantastic article. I would love to change careers and am on the brink of ‘taking the plunge’ but fear I don’t have the talent you have Izzy, to do something creative with my life! There is nothing better than giving pleasure to others through your work and music is a wonderful way of doing this. Good luck with Serene Strings and ‘Eyes Alight’ – they both sound great ventures!

  14. i loved reading this, such a sincere interview. With your happiness and positivity you truly are an inspiration. I shall be applying your thoughts regarding taking control of your life and follow your parents advice to ‘make it happen’!

    1. Thank you so much Hannah, what lovely words. Make it happen is a great motto to remind ourselves of! X

  15. Aww Izzy! What a beautiful story! You are so inspiring and I admire what you have done. Good luck to both you and Harry xxxxx

  16. Izzy what a wonderful account of your achievements to date. I am such a proud Granny. Warmest congratulations!

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